20 Comics Follow the Lives of Graduate Students and the Challenges of Academia

The lives of graduate students are a unique blend of academic rigor, personal growth, and numerous challenges. These individuals are pursuing advanced degrees, such as Master’s or Ph.D. programs, and are deeply involved in research, teaching, and scholarly activities. While the pursuit of knowledge and expertise is rewarding, the path to academia is rife with its own set of challenges.


Graduate students are committed to their academic pursuits. They spend countless hours conducting research, reading scholarly articles, and preparing for exams or comprehensive assessments. The intellectual demands are high, and they must continually push the boundaries of knowledge in their field. “PHD Comics” perfectly captures the lives of graduate students and the challenges of academia. The comics provide a humorous and relatable window into the world of higher education, resonating with graduate students, researchers, and academics who understand the unique struggles and idiosyncrasies of academic life.

Credit: PHD Comics

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#1. How’s it going?

#2. Lab Safety


#3. Manuscript

#4. Academic edition


#5. Academic conclusions

PHD Comics, also known as Piled Higher and Deeper, is a web comic strip written and drawn by Jorge Cham. It follows the lives of several graduate students as they navigate the challenges of academia. The comic is known for its humor, insight, and relatability. PHD Comics was launched in 1997 and has quickly become a favorite among graduate students and academics alike. The comic has won numerous awards, including the Web Cartoonists’ Choice Award for Outstanding Comic Strip. He has a strong online presence through their website and Instagram account, where he has an audience of 234,000 followers.

#6. Vacations


#7. Posting on Instagram

#8. Lifestyle Influencer


#9. Different Nightmares

#10. Personal Projects


#11. Drawing

The comics humorously depict the everyday struggles, challenges, and quirks of life in academia. They often touch on topics such as research, teaching, publishing, conferences, and the academic job market. The series features a set of recurring characters, each representing different facets of the academic world, including the graduate student, the advisor, and the postdoctoral researcher. These characters are relatable to anyone who has been through or is currently in academia. Jorge Cham’s art style is simple and distinctive, making the comics easy to recognize. The characters often have exaggerated features and facial expressions, adding to the humor.

#12. Social media


#13. What about research?

#14. That’s a valid career goal


#15. What’s this?

#16. Google is bestfriend


Cham experienced firsthand the trials and tribulations of graduate school, including the long hours, intense research demands, and the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies doctoral studies. He found that humor was an effective way to deal with the stress and challenges. Creating the webcomic served as a form of catharsis for Cham. By turning his experiences into humorous and relatable comic strips, he was able to share his frustrations and triumphs with others who were going through similar experiences. This allowed him to find humor in the often absurd world of academia.

#17. Different Views

#18. There’s a conference


#19. Can’t Avoid

#20. Still Dreaming


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